Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

10 Quotes From America's Rebellious Musical Legend Johnny Cash

To celebrate the late musician's birthday, here are 10 inspiring quotes from 'the man in black.'

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Since he was a child, singer-songwriter Johnny Cash always knew his destiny was to be a musician. Growing up singing and playing the guitar, it wasn’t long before Cash became a household name. After returning from the war in 1954, Cash started a family with his first wife, Vivian Liberto. He began playing at local venues and his band The Tennessee Three was eventually signed by Sun Studios. Also during this time, Cash’s famous relationship with June Carter began after they met backstage at a concert in which they were both performing. The two became a hit musical duo in the 1960s and eventually married in 1968.

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You

Like anyone, Cash always had his vices. Yet, despite run-ins with the law and trouble with alcohol and drugs, Cash continued his musical legacy, becoming recognized for his prison performances, where he was even inspired to record “Folsom Prison Blues.” Throughout his career, Cash won a number of awards, including 20 Grammys, a National Medal of Arts and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame, and is recognized today as one of the best-selling musicians.

Related: 12 Upbeat Ellen DeGeneres Quotes to Put You in a Good Mood

And while Cash’s career was full of ups and downs, he always managed to pursue his passion for music, and there’s much to learn from his successes -- and failures.

Here are 10 quotes from the musical legend on success, failure, growth and more.


On failure

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” -- Johnny Cash

On success

“Success means having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.” -- Johnny Cash

On growth

“You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.” -- Johnny Cash

Related: 50 Inspirational Entrepreneurial Quotes


On being yourself

“People call me wild. Not really though, I'm not.I guess I've never been normal, not what you call Establishment. I'm country.” -- Johnny Cash

On hard work

“You've got a song you're singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you’ve got to make them think you’re one of them sitting out there with them too. They’ve got to be able to relate to what you’re doing.” -- Johnny Cash

On ideas

“I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they're no good. I don't throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight.” -- Johnny Cash

On mindset

“The more I learn, the more excited I get.” -- Johnny Cash

Related: 20 Leadership Quotes From the World's Most Influential Leaders


On empowerment

“A person knows when it just seems to feel right to them. Listen to your heart.” -- Johnny Cash

On leadership

"All your life, you will be faced with choices. You can choose love or hate... I choose love." -- Johnny Cash

On passion

“I love to go to the studio and stay there 10 or 12 hours a day. I love it. What is it? I don't know. It's life.” Johnny Cash